Date: October 9, 1993
Location: Doak Campbell Stadium, Tallahassee, Fla.
Opponent: No. 3 Miami Hurricanes
So many of the amazing plays that we’ve featured in this countdown have been knockout blows. Plays after which you just knew that the Seminoles had the victory in hand. But every title bout begins with a first shot, that initial contact to the gut, or jab to the chin, that puts one’s opponent on notice that it’s in for a brawl. Movie tough guys have often shown their mettle by imploring their opponents to deliver this first strike, absorbing it admirably, and then overcoming. Patrick Swayze did it in Dirty Dancing, prior to beating the smug out of Robbie.
But Miami is no Johnny Castle, even if it was ranked third nationally coming into this game. And nobody puts Sean Jackson in the corner. Yes, I’m aware that I just basically made Jackson into Jennifer Grey in this incredibly flawed analogy, but come on, he totally nailed the lift when it came to elevating the ’Noles over the Hurricanes. Also, shut up, because I’m having fun with this.
The play in question takes place less than four minutes into this contest and from the No. 1 Seminoles’ 31 in a scoreless game. Charlie Ward brings the offense to scrimmage with William Floyd and Jackson in a split-back look. They then shift to the I-formation, with Jackson as the tailback.
The first-and-ten play begins up the middle, but Jackson recognizes Miami penetration and makes a ridiculously quick read that daylight awaits to the right. Receiver Kevin Knox provides just enough interference to help Jackson gain the corner, and after that, he’s like the wind.
However, ’Cane DBs remained as Jackson sprinted up the sideline. Jackson not-so-politely spurns their attempts to tango, via stiff-arms, and gains pay dirt, courtesy of some nice downfield blocking from WR Matt Frier (spoiler alert— keep Frier’s name in mind). FSU would never trail and went on to win 28-10, the first Seminole-Hurricane matchup in three years that didn’t come down to a nail-biting field-goal attempt.
But perhaps my favorite part of this play occurs after the score has already been made academic: Ray Lewis shows up in the end zone to realize that Miami has basically become the new Kellerman’s— everything just felt like it was coming to an end with regard to the Hurricanes’ run in the 80s. Meanwhile, the ’Noles went on to solidify themselves as the team of the 90s.
It’s tough to overstate just how big this win was in FSU’s first national championship season. Without question, Miami had been the bump in the road that derailed several very talented Florida State teams from reaching the spotlight. And the garnet-and-gold faithful who packed Doak Campbell Stadium had the times of their lives en route to the program’s first national title. The Seminoles had busted the establishment, made their own mark on college football, and would go on to dance throughout the decade to their own beat, one that included another national title in 1999.